I had written about a rescued female leopard cub, Lakshmi, in the forests of Ranthambhore in Rajasthan in India here as well as posted a YouTube video here. But apparently I was slightly misinformed, giving the impression that her future may not be so bright. But here is something from Gerhard Wiehahn, who works as a General Manager in a hotel in Ranthambhore, that may bring a smile to all our faces. (Thank you Gerhard, the world needs more people like you):
“You have been grossly misinformed about Lakshmi! Nobody, including your uniformed guide, gave you the right story. Nobody told you who is really taking care of her and that she truly have a good change to walk free. She is being tought all the survival skills she needs and I can assure you she’ll be a wild leopard within a year. Rehabilitation of wild animals have been successfully done in Africa countless of times. And those theories of why she was abandoned….we’ll I can just laugh.
First and foremost, my involvement in this case is very personal and very definite. I don’t expect any recognition as this is not about me but about this brave little leopard. I am also a professional guide and conservationist in Africa with years of experience in wildlife. Because of my previous experiences in Africa I was informed about Lakshmi’s existence and my assistance was required.
That was November 27, 2007. I estimated her to be approx one month old at the time and noticed she had a defect in her one leg. It was obvious as she was limping on three legs only. After I inspected her it was clear that it was not an injury, as there were no swelling, nor any pain during movement. After consulting with an orthopedic specialist broad, the conclusion is that during birth, a nerve got damaged and caused the spasm in the one joint.
She weighed a mere 2.7kg when I met her, and to my shock, heard from the forest guard that they are feeding her cooked meat and cow’s milk, which of course would have killed her in a day or two. I took over the entire feeding schedule and introduced the little one to a special milk formula. Within two weeks her leg healed completely. I walk with her every day in the bush and taught her how to climb, how to stalk and how to hunt. On live animals I taught her how to suffocate her prey by the throat, and since she has successfully killed two rats and a bird, as well a week old sheep lamb!
Shortly after your visit (December 25, 2007) , I have built her a big enclosure, with trees and a waterhole enclosed. Everyday she scars me more and everyday I bleed for her, so thus the reason I wanted you to be informed. Yes, the human contact is an issue, for sure, but timing is on her side. The most crucial time in her life is when she is 6 months and older. The tourist season is over by end April and I’ll have the privacy with her for the following 5-6 months which will be detrimental to her freedom. I’ll release her at age 12-14 months, as this is the time her mother would leave her. I’ll release her in an isolated and remote area about 150 km away from where she now is, where no humans are present. I’m planning to microchip her to follow her movements for the first two months after release. I’m also hoping to install a US$2000 CCTV camera in her enclosure for me to monitor her well being while I’m not with her.
Rest assured that this little girl is in very good hands.”